Sunday, December 13, 2009

An Obnoxious Bill Collector Tale

One of my adult children who moved out has wound up in some financial difficulty, and bill collectors have recently been tying up my home phone line with a series of annoying calls. Over the years my other kids have also struggled at times, and unfortunately I am no stranger to listening to these collection efforts for other peoples' financial woes.

Many collection agencies are quite amenable to removing my number from their databases after I explain that Person A no longer lives here. A few will try to glean a new address or new telephone number, but in the end the calls usually cease.

That is, until a "Mr. Parker" from a collections company called OMNI Credit Services (OCS) began bombarding my house with calls. I know that bill collection is difficult work, and that these collectors likely take some serious abuse, but "Mr. Parker" is in a league of obnoxiousness far beyond anyone I can recall.

After I returned the call and explained that Person A no longer lives here, that I had only an old cell phone number for Person A, and that I wanted my number removed from the database, he insisted he could not make this happen until I gave him a current phone number and address for Person A. This of course is a complete fabrication, as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act clearly note that collection and location efforts are limited to a single inquiry. Yet it was the way he tried to grill me, cop-style, that really irked me; he told me that if I "would just cooperate and give me the contact information, we could remove your number."


Then it was a series of really personal questions far beyond the scope of a collection effort:

"Do you still talk to the the mother of [Person A]? Can she get a message to her?" (Like it is any of his business about my marriage)

"Is [Person A] homeless? That is the only reason why you wouldn't know the address." (THAT's a great way to get me to do his investigative work - make me feel like I need to defend my kid's financial status)

"Why don't you have a current contact number for [Person A]? Aren't you on speaking terms?" (Again - the status of my relationship with my kid is none of his business)

On and on. I just kept sticking to my monotone mantra: "This is not my bill. Take me out of your database."

Finally, he said that "he just wanted to find someone who cared about the debt, since it is obvious you don't care."

I lost my cool: "You're right I don't care, motherf***er: IT'S NOT MY BILL!"

He hung up.

Of course, now that I blew my cool, "Mr. Parker" had the high moral ground. I hit redial and got the twit back on the phone, where he proceeded to tell me that he "deals with rude people like you all the time, and since I didn't want to cooperate, OCS would continue to call my house." This time I hung up.

Yet a moment of insight hit me, and I called back the main number at OCS and asked for a customer service representative. This new rep was polite, took the same information, and promised me that my number would be removed from their database, as easy as ordering industrial supplies from an online vendor.

So if you run into a bill collector who refuses to follow federal law, simply hang up, call back, and find a different collections rep. This was much easier than getting into a shouting match with an idiot like "Mr. Parker." Of course, if you have time on your hands, you can record these calls and document the abusive behaviour, as § 813 - Civil liability of FDCPA calls for fines up to $1,000 against bill collectors who knowingly violate the law.

Me? I have better things to do with my time.


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